“A guy's driving down the road and sees a guy digging a ditch,” Schiefelbein said. “He stops and asks him, ‘What are you doing?'
“The guy says, ‘I'm digging a ditch.'
“So the guy drives a little farther and sees another guy digging a ditch and he asks, ‘What are you doing?' And the guy says, “We're building a hospital.'
“It's the same job,” Schiefelbein said, “but it's a different perspective.” The second ditch digger's “opportunity to innovate is better because he sees the bigger picture. It happens all the time, and sometimes in health IT, that perspective gets lost.”
Schiefelbein said he conducted a survey of health IT leaders across multiple industries, posing these two questions:
In what industry is your profession?
Are you happy?
Schiefelbein said that more than half (54%) of the survey respondents said, “I'm in the IT industry.”
That's accurate, as far as it goes, according to Schiefelbein, but disconcerting in light of their answers to the second question.
“Those who said they didn't see themselves in IT were 22% happier,” not because IT is odious, but because, like the second ditch digger, “they see themselves in more purposeful work.”
Healthcare, he said, is one of the most purposeful professions on the planet. Schiefelbein said it is the role of IT leaders to expand the horizons of their subordinates, to help them see that they are part of this purposeful endeavor. He suggested as first steps, encouraging them to read the organization's annual reports and strategic plans.
Another idea to help foster of culture of innovation is to answer questions, including:
What will you do to drive patient experience?
What will you do to drive patient loyalty?
What will you do to deliver better decisional data?
How will you help drive strategy or remove obstacles to it?
How will you help drive capture of additional market share?
“The pressure that we feel is huge,” Schiefelbein said. “We have to completely rethink the way we architect, implement and manage IT in our organizations to succeed. We have to change.”
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